Friday, August 5, 2011

Breast Cancer News (8/5): Risk studies from the Era of Hope

This week, the Era of Hope conference in Orlando, Florida is highlighting research funded by the Department of Defense Breast Cancer Research Program. Yesterday, Scott Cole shared his interview with one of the researchers working on new drug delivery methods. Today, we'll review the Era of Hope presentations on breast cancer risk. For more details, please see the press release page of the Era of Hope website.

Young adult daughters of BRCA mutation carriers have "little knowledge" and "intense anxiety" about their own risk

A study from the Dana-Farber Cancer institute questioned women, ages 18 to 24, whose mothers were BRCA gene mutation carriers, about their own breast cancer risk. The young women "exhibited a limited understanding" of screening and risk reduction options. Worry about hereditary cancer was high. Dr. Andrea Farkas Patenaude noted the need for "targeted educational materials to reduce that anxiety and ultimately improve participation in effective screening and risk-reducing interventions that can improve survival and quality of life for these young women."

Vitamin D and risk for women of European and African descent

A study from Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Buffalo evaluated the association between vitamin D levels and breast cancer risk for women of European and African descent. In the study, all women with breast cancer had lower levels of vitamin D than those without. Women with premenopausal triple-negative breast cancer had the lowest levels of vitamin D. Severe vitamin D deficiency "was almost six times higher in African American women than . . . in European American women (34.3 percent vs 5.9 percent)." The researchers also identified two genetic variants (SNPs) which may partly explain the higher risk of estrogen-receptor negative cancer in African American women. The authors concluded that low vitamin D levels are inversely associated with breast cancer risk, particluarly triple-negative cancer, which is more common in African Americans. Future studies to investigate if maintaining sufficient levels of vitamin D can mitigate risk for African Americans are warranted.

Progress in understanding genetic risk for African Americans

Genetic studies of breast cancer risk have been conducted "almost exclusively" in in women of European descent. Researchers from the University of Southern California (USC) initiated a genetic study of breast cancer risk in women of African descent. To date, genetic mapping has identified markers which will "allow for an improved ability to predict the risk of breast cancer development for African Americans over previously-reported markers." Future research is planned.

Two animal studies on pregnancy diet and future breast cancer risk for daughters

Two early animal studies examined the affect of diet during pregnancy on future breast cancer risk for offspring. Although animal studies are not yet applicable to humans, it's interesting to peek at the future of research on breast cancer risk and prevention.

A study from Marshall University found a "reduced incidence" of mammary gland cancer in offspring whose mothers consumed canola oil, rich in omega 3, compared to offspring of mothers who consumed corn oil, rich in omega 6.

Similarly, a study from North Dakota State University found a decrease in tumor incidence and growth in offspring whose mothers consumed a diet supplemented with methyl nutrients (methionine, choline, folate and vitamin B12) compared to offspring of mothers in the control group.d

Please check back Monday for highlights of the weekend's breast cancer news. Until then, all news and research on breast cancer test and treatment options may be found on the treatment pages of the website.

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